One would have to be crazy to think getting fit could happen in just four days. Yet, we've learned over the years that it’s even crazier to think one couldn’t positively impact their entire year in the same amount of time. That’s what the annual 4 Days To Fitness event held in Santa Clarita, California, is all about: giving cyclists a big jump on their fitness goals while surrounding themselves with sound coaching advice.
Sandwiched between Christmas and New Years, 4 Days To Fitness is held during a time that many people have time off work, and when motivation is at the highest as we look to our next year’s goals. This past edition of the event attracted more than 500 total riders spread out over the four days, including numerous current and former professionals, industry folk, and a whole lot of riders simply wanting to log miles on quiet country roads under sunny skies.
The nearly 300 miles ridden by those who completed all four days provide a significant springboard for fitness gains once proper recovery time is allowed. That’s where having experienced riders and coaches helping share advice proves just as important as the training itself. One such person is Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling team member Brian McCulloch, who has been a part of every 4 Days To Fitness event thus far and is also a coach. We asked him for his advice on how someone can get the most out of multi-day training.
McCulloch told us, “Multi-day training ‘blocks’ are the bread and butter in the workout routine of cyclists. Coupling back-to-back training days creates an overload stimulus that, when recovered from, forces our bodies to adapt (i.e.: get stronger). This adaptation is commonly referred to as a 'fitness bounce'.
“As a member of Elevate/KHS Pro Cycling, my race season is centered around a number of five-day stage races, which means multi-day training blocks are the norm in my regimen. Also, as a coach at Big Wheel Coaching, working with athletes of all levels across every discipline of cycling, I recommend the following techniques for their training.”
McCulloch’s Multi-Day Training & Recovery Tips
DON'T EXPECT TO FEEL FRESH
This may sound obvious, but as Vince Lombardi famously said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Expect not to feel your best every day and know that, within reason, this is part of the process. Note: Always listen to your body, it is possible to do too much in a training block.
GIVE YOURSELF A PROLONGED WARM-UP & COOL-DOWN
After the first day, I always add easy spinning before and after my workout. This is an easy way to get the body working and prepare the muscles for the efforts ahead.
INVITE FRIENDS WITH FRESH LEGS
When fatigue sets in, it's easy to become unmotivated. That's when I call friends or join local group rides to get "intervals by osmosis". Their fresh legs and enthusiasm push me harder than I can push myself.
EAT PROPERLY DURING TRAINING
This is an easy one to forget, but it is imperative to fuel ourselves properly during training, especially when doing multi-day training blocks. I shoot for 250kcal/hour every hour.
USE TOPICAL EDGE PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY LOTION
Last year, during our altitude training camp leading into the Tour of Utah I started using PR Lotion before my workouts and it helped me tremendously. This offseason I have been experimenting with also using it after heavy training and have been surprised that it helps here as well. I suggest you give it a try for yourself. The stuff works.
REHYDRATE & REFUEL IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING TRAINING
The importance of this cannot be understated. When training is done, get cleaned up and eat a nutritious meal. Think of food as fuel, so pick the best fuel for your body!
ADD YIN YOGA & MEDITATION TO YOUR ROUTINE
This is something I have come to love over the last year. Restorative Yoga, often referred to as 'Yin', is a great way to get your body and mind to unwind after hard training. I recommend you do 20-30 minutes each day, as your schedule allows.
HAVE ACCESS TO PRE-PREPARED NUTRITIOUS FOODS
After subsequent days of training your appetite can become ravenous! That's why I prepare nutritious foods before my blocks of training. This way I am not tempted by nutrient-deficient food choices like fast-food when I’m hungry and tired.
EARLY BEDTIME IS A MUST
Sleep studies show that going to bed earlier outweighs sleeping-in. Keep this in mind during hard training, it takes discipline to go to bed early, but it feels good to wake-up refreshed when you know that a challenging training day awaits you